AN endangered leatherback sea turtle has died after hours ensnared in a fishing net at Doñana National Park, Huelva. 

Underwater firemen conducted a rescue operation to save the turtle but the injuries it sustained from hours of imprisonment were too severe. 

The turtle was first sighted by a fisherman, from Acebuche, Arroyo, who saw the reptile flapping in distress after becoming ensnared in a net.  

National park authorities identified the species as a leatherback turtle, or Dermochelys coriacea, the largest turtle extant.

FREED: Turtle given aid on land (Credit: Thorn, L. M., Cobos, D. and Round, I.)

After a precautionary assessment by the Andalusian Marine Environment Agency, the fire service?s Underwater Rescue Unit plunged into the sea to free the turtle. 

HEROES: Authorities rush to help

On shore, the turtle was given necessary veterinary care and the shade of a large umbrella. 

PEACEFUL: Turtle safe on the shore (Credit: Thorn, L. M., Cobos, D. and Round, I.)

Due to its unstable condition, the reptile was then moved to the Andalusian Marine Environment Management Center where it later died. 

RELOCATION: Turtle moved for rehabilitation (Credit: Thorn, L. M., Cobos, D. and Round, I.)

Globally, the leatherback sea turtle is listed as vulnerable, but many subpopulations (such as in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic) are critically endangered. 

“It is the responsibility of our whole society to ensure the conservation of these species and their habitats,” said a statement from Doñana National Park. 

Alongside firefighters, many marine conservation staff and residents of the area aided the rescue mission to transfer the turtle from the water to the beach. 

COMMUNITY: Locals help out (Credit: Thorn, L. M., Cobos, D. and Round, I.)

On average, a leatherback sea turtle weighs between 600 and 1500 pounds. They are the fourth-heaviest modern reptile behind only three species of crocodile.

Leatherback sea turtles are easily differentiated from other species as they are the only type without a bony shell. It also has a teardrop-shaped body, making it the most hydrodynamic of its kind. 

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